October 5, 1939
Old ‘Union Record’ Was Farmerville’s First Newspaper; Lasted Eight Years
Was Founded in 1870 by J. M. Rabun, Later Sold to J. E. Trimble; Changed to ‘Gazette’
Farmerville ‘Gazette’ Established in 1878
The newspapers of a community reflect the life of that community. They are the recorders of every day history and it is their duty to keep their readers abreast of the times.
Therefore, when one leafs through the files of newspapers, some of them extinct, the happenings that were news then is history of us.
Journalism in Farmerville had its beginning about 69 years ago, when J. M. Rabun founded the “Union Record” in 1870. It was the only paper in the parish at that time.
According to some, there was a paper “The Inquirer” founded here in 1855. However, no paper has been found and no traces have been found of the newspaper. It is generally recognized that journalism in Farmerville began with the founding of the “Union Record”.
In 1878 the “Union Record” was sold to J. E. Trimble and the name of the paper changed, “The Gazette”.
Competition to this sole newspaper entered the field in 1878, when Farmerville saw the dawn of “The Baptist Messenger”. Published by the Rev. S. C. Lee, one of the leading Baptist ministers of the parish, the paper had a large following The “Messenger” continued in Farmerville until 1884, when the editor moved to Arcadia, Bienville Parish. He continued the publication of the paper there until his death in 1886.
In 1882, “The Cast Plow” was founded in Farmerville by W. P. Chandler. This was a weekly newspaper established for the sole purpose of displaying Mr. Chandler’s knowledge of foundry work to the public. This paper folded after a few months.
“The Home Advocate” was founded February 4, 1885, with T. C. Lewis as editor. At this time, a controversy arose between Mr. Lewis and Mr. Trimble of the “Gazette”. Both papers politically were Democratic but the two editors never could seem to gt together as to what issues should be taken on important questions of the time.
The controversy increased to such a pitch that both editors buckled on pistols each wanting to shoot the other. However, the “Gazette” had popular support and the “Advocate” died a permanent death. Mr. Lewis moved to Ruston where, later, his son founded the “Ruston Leader”.
Another minister entered the Farmerville newspaper field in 1895. He was Rev. Henry Archer whose “North Louisiana Appeal” proved to be a failure. Several times during the ensuing year the preacher tried to revive the paper, but with no success.
A negro journal, “The Afro-American”, appeared on the scene in 1895. It continued publication for almost a year but died at the end of a year when its editor became involved in difficulties with some of his enemies. He was a Baptist and in one issue criticized the way the Methodist negroes held their revival meetings. He was whipped and run out of town.
“The Gazette”, meanwhile, had continued uninterrupted publication with little competition. In 1896 a party newspaper was established to run in competition to the successful weekly.
The paper was sponsored by the Populists of the parish and took the name of the “Herald”. It did give the “Gazette” competition with Barney Johnson as editor, until 1897 when it changed hands. Its new owners and editors were J. A. Ham and A. A. Terral. It died, too, after the election of 1900 when the Populist movement lost ground.
In 1902 a curiously interesting publication was begun by Minor L. Moore, a lawyer from Waco, Texas. The publication was edited monthly in pamphlet form. It did not have a subscription list, but was sent to the friends of the editor free. It continued for a year, until Moore moved to California.
All in all, there have been eight attempts at steady publication of a newspaper in Farmerville. Of these, seven were unsuccessful and only one paper — “The Gazette” — remained alive.